You may not always need a laywer BUT…

The story of Argos and the baby wipe last week got me thinking on a couple of levels. (Always dangerous!)

It is easy to make a story about a man slipping on a baby wipe mildly amusing and the idea of a claim in those circumstances absurd. But slapstick is only funny when it happens to someone else.

Bear in mind that the man’s injuries in that case had been agreed by the lawyers for the shop as worth €17,500 (and they don’t agree these things out of the goodness of their hearts). There was no dispute that he had suffered genuine and serious injury for which he should have been compensated.

What they disputed was that they had caused the accident by failing to have a safe system in place to ensure their floor was kept clean. The evidence that lost the case for Argos was expert engineering evidence based on CCTV footage showing the wipe had lain on the ground for some time before the man inadvertently slipped on it.

The Injuries Board is the place where you must now bring a claim before you can go to court. They don’t like lawyers and their unofficial policy is to make it a lawyer free zone. There are many reasons for this and this is a topic to which I will return. But while insurance companies can force you to go through the Injuries Board process, they don’t have to accept their findings and can force you to go to court even after the Injuries Board has made an award in your favour.

So, if the man who suffered the injuries in this case hadn’t had a lawyer from the outset, if he hadn’t been advised to ensure that the CCTV footage had been preserved and hadn’t been advised to obtain an expert engineer’s report on liability before it was too late to do so, he would have had no way of proving his case when it was ultimately put to the test by the shop in court.

There are many things you can do for yourself and there are many times when you do not need a lawyer. If you don’t, I’ll be the first to tell you. But a situation where you find yourself injured when it’s someone else’s fault isn’t one of them, no matter what some might like to have you believe.

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Flor McCarthy is one of Ireland’s leading lawyers, certified by the Law Society of Ireland in Data Protection Practice. Flor has extensive expertise and hands-on practical experience in privacy, data protection and GDPR issues for marketers. He was chosen as Munster Solicitor of the Year at the Irish Law Awards in 2018.